The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point.
This pilot season will be very weird for FOX. Why? Because the network as we knew it is about to die. As Disney bought 20th Century FOX Television -among other 21st Century FOX assets- which was their principal content provider with big names attached to it (like Ryan Murphy’s or Seth MacFarlane’s), the network will soon be without any in-house studio. Except if Sony, Lionsgate or god knows what other television studio becomes part of FOX, but it’ll take months before it becomes effective. Since the deal between 21st FOX Television & Disney has yet to be approved, it’s a season of transition and the executives may be very picky about their orders, while they may not be there next year. The more they pick-up 20th Century FOX Television projects, the more money they’re giving to Disney… It’s hard to know what’s really gonna happen so let’s see what they have in store regardless.
FOX is not having a bad year per say, but only their Empire/Star pairing is doing really good business for them. Everything else nagivates between big flops (virtually every comedy including their best hope The Mick, The Exorcist…), little flops (Gotham, Last Man On Earth) and okay performers (Lethal Weapon, Lucifer). Supernatural comedy Ghosted is doing okay on sunday while Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville is compensating its so-so live ratings with important gains on live+7. The Gifted, which was supposed to be their biggest new asset, disappointed and didn’t generate any buzz, despite being part of the X-Men universe, and has yet to be renewed. But with Ryan Murphy’s 911 and the new season of The X-Files coming, they may witness a ratings surge in the new year. Not all is lost… yet!
THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLIST (20th Century FOX Television)
What? focuses on 16-year-old Austin, who’s always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, spins his entire world out of orbit. Austin, a talented musician himself, is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring world while he discovers more about himself, his friendships and what it means to have this new modern version of a family.
Why? Is FOX turning into an all-musical network? If they add another music-fueled show to Empire & Star, it will start to look like it. But how can we blame them? It’s currently what works best for them… Writer and producer Lee Daniels is not involved in this one, but there’s still potential, especially if they bet more on the family part than the behind-the-scenes of the music industry. This Is Us lead the way for more family dramas, and this one may have what it takes to be different enough and somehow similar too.
BEING JUDGED (20th Century FOX Television)
What? No one likes being judged, least of all Josephine Graves, who is struggling to figure out this thing called life, while balancing her demanding career, social life, and family responsibilities; unfortunately for her, she has to do it all under the biggest, brightest, spotlight because at 27 years old she is the youngest judge in the history of America…
Why? FOX is out of the legal drama business for quite some time now. This project may be a interesting way in, though it doesn’t sound particularly original. But hey, as we’ve been proven multiple times the past few years, the simpler ideas can often lead to the best shows. Look at The Good Doctor and This is Us… If Being Judged has an Ally McBeal vibe to it, it’s a yes! Plus, we’re still waiting for women-led dramas on the network…
EAST OF HOPE (20th Century FOX Television)
What? set in an All-American working class town which centers around two families divided by a past event, and reconnected by blood; both tie their hopes and dreams to the high school basketball team, which they see as their ticket to a better life…
Why? Other than being musical shows imagined by Lee Daniels, Empire & Star have something else in common: they’re about black people coming from a poor environment trying to get better lives. That’s also the case with East of Hope but with basketball in the background. And guess who’s producing? Yes, Lee Daniels again! No-brainer, right?
KENTUCKY BLOOD (ABC Studios / 20th Century FOX Television)
What? Inspired by the revelation that the recipe for Jack Daniels whiskey was developed by a slave, Kentucky Blood is a heartland, family drama set in the bourbon business about deep, family secrets bubbling up to the surface. It follows two families intertwined by a complex history and a secret epic romance between two star-crossed lovers. One white. One black. A perfect storm of circumstance brings them back into each others lives as business partners, changing the old dynamic between them and disrupting their families lives.
Why? Am I the only one thinking it’s a bit odd FOX haven’t tried another big soap since Empire? If there’s a network that is in the best place to launch one right now, it’s FOX. This one is particularly interesting for multiple reasons : the setting, the “Romeo & Juliet” vibe, the multiracial love story… but it will need to be modern to work because the pitch sounds a bit old. I’m wondering why ABC didn’t keep it for themselves honestly.
MIDNIGHT LAWYER (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about a lawyer who gets his clients out of trouble they get into after dark. He used to live the NYC after-hours life and now he’s always striving to save people the way he saved himself – but this business comes with temptation…
Why? Another legal drama but this time with this particularity: it starts after dark and ends right before dawn. Is it enough to make it special? It will also need a good central character and as it is written here, we can imagine another anti-hero à la Dr House. Is this type of character a thing of the past now? Maybe. But it should be given a chance, just in case.
MIXTAPE (20th Century FOX Television)
What? drama that looks at a disparate group of interconnected people in contemporary Los Angeles through the lens of the music that defines who they are…
Why? Busy Quantico creator Josh Safran -he works on three pilots at the same time- is back to its musical roots after his stint on the second season of Smash that didn’t end well. Mixtape is reminiscent of critical darling La La Land, which is a good thing I guess. The worrying part is “a disparate group of interconnected people” because this type of concept rarely works on television. Remember Six Degrees or even Heroes. It’s really hard to sustain and it may not do well on a network. But it’s definitely intriguing.
OFF-SITE (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about a former “chaos agent” for the CIA who’s recruited by a UN investigator to help recover a missing artifact that surprisingly contains clues to a mythical reservoir said to be overflowing with an incredibly rare and immensely valuable fossil fuel, instantly igniting a pulse-pounding chase across the desert
Why? Adventure dramas are rare on television, probably because it’s a very hard thing to do, it needs big budget, but I’m always hoping for a good one. Maybe Off-Site will be it… Len Wiseman (Sleepy Hollow, APB, Lucifer) is involved as writer, director and executive producer. I’m not sure it’s a good thing though.
PROXY (20th Century FOX Television)
What? centered on a technology that allows online followers to live voyeuristically through the experiences of hedonistic young “Proxies” on a remote island paradise…
Why? John Francis Daley (Bones) is behind this very interesting sci-fi project developed by Anonymous Content (Mr Robot, True Detective, 13 Reasons Why…). It may not be such a good fit with a network but since that’s where it is at this time, let’s just cross our fingers so we get the chance to see it from our own eyes.
SURVEILLANCE (20th Century FOX Television)
What? A lens into the least understood organization in the United States the NSA. Its a high stakes, serialized, character-driven political thriller set in a world we really haven’t seen before all through the eyes of our hero and the NSAs secret keeper Madeline Yardley.
Why? The NSA storylines were not the best part of The Good Wife, and a spin-off about this world would not have worked, but I still think there’s a show to do about the NSA and it’s the only one in this pilot season that I know of. Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) is involved as producer, which reassures me. That being said, there’s a reason why it’s “the least understood organization”: it’s always very complex and can easily become boring…
UNTITLED LAVENDER & ULIN PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)
What? After twenty years of marriage, a couple try to reignite their passion and strengthen their family by starting over in paradise on earth: Hawaii; they move their two teenage kids to the island of tourist fantasies, but the reality of paradise is not all sun, surf, and sex on the beach – dark family secrets, a complicated social structure they don’t understand, old mistakes, and messy new relationships threaten to tear the Campbell family apart, even as they struggle to find their way back to each other
Why? As a big supporter of family dramas, I find this one particularly interesting thanks to the Hawaii setting and the culture attached to it. Escapism and emotion, that’s a really good plan, isn’t it? If it’s as good as Alexander Payne’s movie The Descendants, we have a winner! But let’s not set the bar too high already…
UNTITLED L.A. WOMEN PROJECT (20th Century FOX Television)
What? Longtime friends Reza, June, Amelia, and Indie who have climbed to the top of the Hollywood ladder together as a lawyer, an actress, a writer-producer, and an entrepreneur. It all looks pretty enviable from the outside, and they all enjoy the many perks of their high-flying lifestyles – but there’s no such thing as having it all, at least not all at the same time. Each of them has made significant sacrifices to get where they are. When a face from their past resurfaces in the pilot, they have to confront some ugly buried secrets and protect their lives from being destroyed.
Why? Eva Longoria can’t get over Desperate Housewives after Devious Maids apparently, with this project that she’s producing that takes one aspect of it -4 women friends- to another environment: Hollywood! It’s timely, especially if those women are confronted to very bad men like Harvey Weinstein and so many others… There’s potential, as long as it’s not just another funny dramedy with cartoonesque characters that are mostly here to make us laugh and cry easily. Make it a profound feminist soap or don’t do it at all.
VICTORY (20th Century FOX Television)
What? set in the world of competitive gospel choirs which tells the inspirational story of a prodigal son and a group of forgotten young people who must rise above their personal hardships to save a church and heal a broken community through the power of song
Why? Well… Yeah, of course it’s from Lee Daniels again. What can I say? He certainly has deep obsessions and Victory is exactly what we could expect from him, no surprise here. But I can’t help thinking that this gospel choirs idea is good and it’s something that could touch people’s hearts as long as it’s not too preachy. Gospel is empowering and an amazing thing to witness in a church, if you get the chance. Would it work on a weekly basis? Yeah, if the community the characters form is well-defined and relatable, not on the “bigger-than-life” side.
FOX is also developing a small screen take on James Cameron’s 1994 feature True Lies about a super-spy whose family discovers his real job, by McG; a new anthological take on the 24 franchise which would center on a female prosecutor who uncovers a legal conspiracy and has to work against the clock to save a death row inmate facing imminent execution whom she had helped prosecute but may be innocent; a retelling of the King Lear story produced by Milo Ventimiglia called Cordelia; a sequel to the 1970s David Carradine-led TV series Kung-Fu produced by Greg Berlanti (?!); more Lee Daniels projects; The Nice Girls, a contemporary gender flipped TV series based on Shane Black’s 2016 feature film The Nice Guys, about two very different PIs; many cop show…
COOL KIDS (20th Century FOX Television) – picked up to pilot
What? about three guy friends in a retirement community who are the top dogs until they’re blown out of the water by the newest member of the community, a female rebel who’s ready to challenge their place – it’s high school with 70 somethings…
Why? I like old people having existential crisis and also a lof of fun in the process. If it can be as good as The Golden Girls or Grace and Frankie, I’m in. If it’s as shitty as FOX last attempt Dads: definitely out!
MS. PAT (20th Century FOX Television)
What? the story of a most unlikely suburban mom; her hustle and entrepreneurial spirit were forged on the mean streets of Atlanta, but she now finds herself in conservative middle America alongside her loving husband and two distinct sets of kids raised under very different circumstances
Why? Redeveloped leftover from last year – Empire‘s Lee Daniels & Brian Grazer are behind this family comedy project that could be great if Ms. Pat is as hilarious a character as Cookie. I don’t know a thing about stand-up comedian Patricia Williams who’s attached to play the role but I feel very confident about this one.
MURDERTOWN (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about a New York radio journalist who, after a career-ending gaffe, returns to her hometown in Cape Cod and takes a job at the local newspaper, hoping to uncover a headline-grabbing true crime story that will get her back in the spotlight…
Why? It could have been the pitch of a drama but since it’s a comedy, we can expect a true-crime parody in the vein of Trial & Error or American Vandal. There’s still time but not so much before this type of projects become outdated so it’s now or never, FOX.
ONE HIT WENDY (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about Wendy, a one-hit wonder who peaked at 18, who tries to guide her talented niece, Jordan, through the music industry and keep her from making the same mistakes she made…
Why? If FOX develops so many music-fueled dramas, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t try it on the comedy-side too. This one sounds like the best of the crowd and it has one advantage: Julianne Hough, a popular judge from Dancing With The Stars -who won twice the competition before getting the gig- is attached for the lead role.
RESERVATIONS (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about a Native American family that trades their impoverished reservation for Los Angeles, a move inspired by the dreams of a 14-year-old boy to live in Hollywood
Why? Yet another family comedy but with an original angle. It makes me think of the best part of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Jacqueline and her native american parents. Curious to see how funny this cultural clash can play out.
REVIVAL (20th Century FOX Television)
What? about Elliot, formerly the little kid from a beloved ’80s family sitcom and now living a normal life, who reluctantly gets sucked back into the show’s revival with his old TV family
Why? These days, with so many revivals on the air –Roseanne, Fuller House– this fake-family comedy from TV is simply genius! And the good news is Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off The Boat, Don’t Trust the B) is producing. I want it badly!
SPACEBOUND (Jackal Prod)
What? about an alien who goes on an intergalactic coffee run and finds herself stranded on “the worst planet in the universe”: Earth; a group of eccentric friends takes her in and she discovers she might actually be the most functional person in the world
Why? Similar projects are developped every year or so, I won’t tell you it’s incredibly original but instead of a 3rd Planet From The Sun reboot -that is not in the cards at this time- or worst an Alf one, why not?
STEP STRANGERS (Warner Bros. Television)
What? about five 20-something adults who are forced to become step-siblings after their overbearing divorced mother and oblivious widower father meet on a singles cruise and fall in love
Why? Elizabeth Banks is producing this one. I kinda like the premise. Think it’s like Happy Endings but if they were suddenly all brothers and sisters! Did I convince you? I just convinced myself.
What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!